Statistics Don't Support Police Bias
Last updated 6/8/2020 at 4:01pm
Carter Heyward’s letter in the June 4 issue of The Times deserves a reply.
Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, authored an op-ed piece in the June 5 issue of the Wall St. Journal entitled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.” In her essay, Ms. MacDonald states that in 2019, police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were approximately a quarter of those killed by police officers last year, which amounted to 235 deaths, a ratio that has remained stable since 2015.
In 2018, the latest year for which data on police shootings have been published, African-Americans made up 53 percent of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60 percent of the robberies though they are 13 percent of the population.
In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims, the vast majority victimized by other blacks. The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32 respectively. Those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1 percent of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18-and-one-half times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.
Research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. found no evidence of racial discrimination in shootings. Any evidence to the contrary fails to take into account crime rates and civilian behavior before and during interactions with police.
The false narrative of systemic police bias has resulted in targeted killings of officers in the last 10 years. The thousands of law-abiding African-Americans who depend on the police for basic safety are once again the true victims. What happened in Minneapolis was inexcus-able, and the perpetrators are going to be appropriately punished; however, un-supported allegations about police racism serves no useful purpose, and a sense of perspective is necessary if the discussion is to be fair.